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The premiere of The Musketeers kicked off with a bang—literally. The episode begins with D’Artagnan and his father who decide to stop at an inn for the night while on their way to Paris. Unfortunately for them, some men claiming to be the king’s Musketeers have come to raid the inn and D’Artagnan’s father gets caught in the crossfire. The rain pours down, dramatically drenching D’Artagnan as he holds his dying father in his arms and it’s clear from his eyes that he is silently vowing revenge.
It’s immediately clear that Porthos does most things smugly. When we meet him, he is arrogantly playing cards with a member of the king’s Red Guard. Apparently his smug smile does not make him appear very trustworthy, as the soldier accuses him of cheating. Athos declares that the only way to defend Porthos’ honor against what is clearly a false allegation, is with a duel. However, it seems Porthos’ opponent is the one who lacks honor, since he attacks him while he is still unarmed. Being a Musketeer, Porthos improvises, grabbing a fork to use in place of his sword.
Not even 10 minutes into the first episode and we get what we’ve all been waiting for: the first real sword fight. What would the Musketeers be without a little swordplay, anyway?
Porthos holds his own with his bit of silverware but soon Athos decides the fight is taking too long, and simply knocks the other guy out, and claims it’s because they’re wanted by their boss, Treville.
Meanwhile, Aramis is in bed with Cardinal Richelieu’s Mistress. In an exchange that verges on farcical, the Cardinal arrives for his appointment early, while the two lovebirds are still busy going over what each of Aramis’ scratches and scars are from.
When they hear the Cardinal approaching, she says to Aramis, “If you love me, you’ll jump!” So he does. Right out the window.
At the King’s estate, the Cardinal brings up reports of Musketeers gone wild, who, like those who killed D’artagnan’s father, have been stealing and killing. Treville reminds the King of the Musketeers’ honor and tries to assure him that all are present and accounted for. The Cardinal persists and it seems more because of annoyance than actual agreement that the King decides to order a full investigation into Treville’s operation. That would be fine if Treville hadn’t already sent Porthos, Aramis and Athos to investigate a missing troupe of Musketeers. Oops?
D’Artagnan, who is on his way to avenge his father, ends up sleeping with another guest at the inn he’s staying at. The tryst turns nasty when he wakes up in morning with a knife stuck in the pillow next to him, his ex-lover having framed him for the murder of her companion. To escape from his accusers, he executes the second window jump of the episode, this time straight through the glass, which leaves him a little worse for wear.
He grabs a woman on the street and proposes an exchange—a kiss for money—something the woman, Constance, isn’t all too pleased about. Right after the kiss, which does manage to trick his pursuers, he passes out in pain right there in the street. Luckily, Constance takes pity on and him, bringing him back to her home and nursing him back to health. In exchange he tells her he is looking for Athos, who he believes killed his father since that name was the last thing his father said before he died.
D’Artagnan makes it to the Musketeers’ base and proceeds to challenge Athos to a duel. While it’s clear he is no match for Athos’ sword skills, he doesn’t give up, even when Porthos and Aramis join in. In the end, Constance comes barging in, breaking up what was definitely not a fair fight. And she’s not the only one joining the party; Treville comes in directly after and dramatically announces that Athos is being arrested for murder.
D’Artagnan ultimately decides to put aside differences and help Porthos and Aramis investigate, so the three head off on horseback, back to the inn where D’Artagnan’s father was killed. When they arrive, they examine the body and discover that they must have ambushed a group of Musketeers and stolen their uniforms.
D’Artagnan, Athos and Porthos confront the Red Guard soldier who attacked Porthos earlier. After some psychological torture, they get him to admit that he was involved in the ambush of the Musketeers men that went missing. He defends himself, saying, “I was just following orders.” He names the Captain as the one that hired them for the job, except he was actually lying; it was the Cardinal who hired the Captain, in order to discredit the Musketeers. But the soldier gets no points for the cover up and ends up killed by the Cardinals hand anyway.
This guy might be a man of God, but he’s certainly not opposed to killing to get what he wants, or to cover his tracks. He even ends up bringing his mistress into the woods and has her shot for being a traitor and a spy. That seems a little extreme but this guy really covers all his bases.
The Cardinal is clearly power hungry and it’s a little disconcerting that the King doesn’t see that. And we’re not just saying that because we’re privy to the Cardinal’s plots. It turns out that the mystery woman who slept with D’Artagnan earlier set up Athos and is in cahoots with the Cardinal. But what he really hired her for was to get the letters that the King was purposefully hiding from him.
At their next meeting, the Cardinal plays the King like a fiddle. The King is in distress over the missing letters, which contained plans for a peace treaty with Spain and were en route to his brother-in-law, the King of Spain. The Cardinal has the King right where he wants him: desperate and quite literally begging for his counsel and support.
D’Artagnan, Athos and Porthos sneak into the Red Guard camp with the help of Constance, who pretends to be a prostitute and makes for the perfect distraction. After agreeing that their greatest advantage is the element of surprise, D’Artagnan takes off, screaming about avenging his father, which is, if not advisable, at least understandable. The guy really needs to watch his back, though, as he almost gets shot from behind. Thankfully, Constance comes to his rescue and looks like a total badass when she shoots the guy in the back.
D’Artagnan kills the Captain but it’s from self-defense rather than revenge, which is better? Maybe? It all works out because they have the evidence they need to get Athos off—something they do just in the nick of time as Athos is facing down the execution squad when they arrive with news of his release.
The Musketeers has a great cast, surprisingly funny writing, and beautiful costumes. Plus, the sword fighting is actually engaging and fun to watch. We’re definitely on board for more. Let us know in the comments what you thought of the episode and if you’ll be tuning in to catch more grand adventures of Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D’Artagnan.
The Musketeers airs Sundays at 9 pm EST on BBC America.
image courtesy of Jean Catuffe/INFGoff.com